C of E chief ‘has doubts about God’

C of E chief ‘has doubts about God’

The Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, admits he has very few answers to Big Theological Questions.

According to this report, Britain’s most senior churchman, who is effectively the leader of almost 80 million Anglicans worldwide, admitted that there are moments when he asks himself “Is there a God?” and “Where is God?

He also said that Christians cannot explain why suffering exists in the world but that the answer was faith.

His remarks came in an interview conducted as part of a service at Bristol Cathedral, during a visit to the diocese.

Asked whether, despite his high profile as a religious leader, he ever struggles with doubt, he said:

Yes I do. I mean there are moments, sure, where you think ‘is there a God?’, ‘Where is God?’

He added that there were moments when he was struck with doubts even while praying, including during his regular morning jogs near Lambeth Palace.

I love the Psalms, if you look at Psalm 88, that’s full of doubt.

He added:

The other day I was praying over something as I was running and I ended up saying to God ‘Look this is all very well but isn’t it about time you did something – if you’re there’ – which is probably not what the Archbishop of Canterbury should say.


It is not about feelings, it is about the fact that God is faithful and the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not.

Asked how to persuade those who do not see religion as relevant in modern world, he admitted that Christians did not have the answers to common questions such as why a good God would permit suffering.

We turn the tide in a number of ways. We know about Jesus, we can’t explain all the questions in the world, we can’t explain about suffering, we can’t explain loads of things but we know about Jesus.

We can talk about Jesus – I always do that because most of the other questions I can’t answer.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

23 responses to “C of E chief ‘has doubts about God’”

  1. Stephen Mynett says:

    ” . . . we can’t explain loads of things but we know about Jesus.
    We can talk about Jesus – I always do that because most of the other questions I can’t answer.”

    Interesting quote, I wonder what he is so sure about with Jesus, that a Jesus character(s) existed is probably true but the rest is just a collection of stories, mostly written many years after the events they claim to portray.

    The various books of the Bible cannot even agree on the events around the crucifixion, the integral part of the Christian myth.

  2. CaptainSnapz says:

    ‘Look this is all very well but isn’t it about time you did something – if you’re there’ I read this and hear the voice of Peter Jones. (Not the one from Dragon’s Den you understand)

  3. Stephen Mynett says:

    Perhaps Welby might enjoy reading this, I am certainly looking forward to my copy arriving:

  4. Mephisto says:

    Keep going mate, you’re nearly there.

  5. Broga says:

    ” the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not.”

    What does he mean by that? And whatever he means how does he know that God is faithful? His comments, with the usual equivocation, are shallow and offer no insights into faith or the lack of it. He expresses what any priest who is not brainwashed to the limit must think. What he says stops far short of what many priests privately think.

    That these banal comments should cause headlines indicates the fantasy façade that still protects religion . So many still dare not think the obvious and cling to their precarious remnants of faith. Belief has crumbled amongst the educated. Its support relies ever more on the ignorant, semi literate masses who believe what their clergy tell them.

  6. Paul Cook says:

    Not one thing he said makes much sense. Except the questioning of a fiction of the mind. The sky fairy.
    This is the comment of an idiot –
    “It is not about feelings, it is about the fact that God is faithful and the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not.”
    It means nothing at all to me. What is the ‘fact’ when there is no fact of an unexplainable ‘thought’. Where is the proof or evidence of such a fact. It’s like saying a ball is round because it’s round and it’s a ball. It is not just illogical it’s the sort of thing spoken by an immature imbecile. If it means something I must admit I have no idea what it is.

  7. barfly says:

    Yes he can tell us about Jesus and how wonderful and loving he is how he turned water to wine and lots of wonderful miracles he did. Oh you and your family are starving to death children die because there is no clean water no cant help you there but Jesus loves you. Bollocks Terry pratchet makes more sense

  8. Trevor Blake says:

    I would rather there was no Christianity and no Islam. Between the two, I’d be less in mortal danger from visiting a Christian Britain than an Islamic Britain.

    That having been said, when a faith that mews and doubts and concedes meets a faith that forges forward in confidence and violence, the outcome is not difficult to predict.

  9. barriejohn says:

    There’s more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for Justin Welby’s brain.

  10. John Dowdle says:

    There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that any biblical Jesus character ever existed – so what does that say about Welby’s brain – or mind?

  11. Paul Cook says:

    I think the only evidence for both is the babble.
    There are no contemporary sources for either.

  12. Broga says:

    ” Welby said he was certain about the existence of Jesus, even talking about his presence beside him.” Isn’t Jesus and God the same with the Holy Ghost in there somewhere? If Jesus is beside Welby is he also beside the Pope and millions of others?

    This episode seems like a PR stunt. The super important Archbishop doing something as ordinary – jogging – as common folk. And also thinking daring theological thoughts.

  13. AgentCormac says:

    This is a great story. How on earth can those 80 million Anglicans take their church seriously when its leader himself thinks it might all just be a load of old bollocks?

    As for ‘…we can’t explain about suffering, we can’t explain loads of things but we know about Jesus.’ Welby knows as much about Jesus as I do, which is what’s written in the bible. Which is, as anyone with a half a brain can surmise from its inaccuracies, contradictions and implausible fantasies, a load of old bollocks.

  14. Broga says:

    Welby, after coming out with his doubts, which may have been certainties, about God’s existence goes for the CYA option. CYA = Cover Your Arse. However, he makes a poor job of it. Rowan Williams was a master of obfuscations where you might even think that imbedded in them somewhere there was a meaning to be excavated.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Jerry Coyne has hit the nail on the head; Welby’s WISH for a God overcomes his doubt. I think that that is true for all religious people except for the truly deluded (ie the ones who are not deluding themselves!). BTW I had not picked up on the fact that this was yet again a BBC interview. What is wrong with this organization?

    PS The faithful are going into raptures over what Welby said – as if it was some sort of revelation!

  16. 1859 says:

    I talk to Jesus too. We have a good laugh. Did you know he’s a Man United supporter? He’s got Scottish ancestors and loves big hairy men…..sorry, I’d love to write some more about my banter with the son of god, but they’re undoing my straight-jacket at the moment so I can do my morning exercises…but maybe later I’ll fill you in with the latest news from J.C. – he’s just a big soft kid really… He’s going to teach me how to walk on water…can’t wait…

  17. Robster says:

    I’d have thought that you’d need to believe in something bizarre to be able to wear those silly clothes the archbish is proudly wearing while keeping a straight face. I’m sure the bloke’s got a brain of some sort, so if he was to really, really think about it, he’d have to conclude that, no, there is no god and no, he won’t be doing anything. It pretty plain to many of us.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Robster: Did you notice that for this Q&A session (at a packed cathedral), Welby had his jacket off and his sleeves rolled up? I hate that “I’m just an ordinary bloke like you” charade that they go through on such occasions, and agree with Broga that this looks like a very carefully choreographed PR exercise (remind you of any other “pretty straight sort of guy” that you’ve come across?). I remember all the kowtowing to “big speakers” when I was a member of the Plymouth Brethren , especially one young woman who confided to another how nervous she had been when “entertaining my first speaker”, as if it was some sort of rite of passage. An older Scottish member of our own assembly used to go into raptures over the fact that he had bumped into Professor Bruce ever so humbly “helping to wash the teacups” in the kitchen at meetings in Glasgow. Why the hell shouldn’t he; don’t such people wipe their own arses? Most members of our family are staunch Anglicans, and they love to go on about how “Bishop Jim” said this and “Bishop Jim” said that, as if being on first name terms with these divine beings puts them above the rest of the common herd. I bet there was a lot of wet underwear at Bristol Cathedral that night!

  19. barriejohn says:

    PS The late Sir John Laing was a leading light amongst the Brethren – though he wouldn’t support the Billy Graham Crusade because of Graham’s association with Roman Catholics and others. His Trust Fund still finances the building of new Gospel Halls in Great Britain. I’ve lost count of the number of times I had related to me the fact that he “only drove a Rover car”!

  20. Angela_K says:

    Just a few more steps of reason Mr Welby and you’ll be free.

    It reminds me of the episode of Father Ted where Father Dougal was asked about his faith.

    Bishop Facks: So, Father. Do you ever have any doubts about the religious life? Is your faith ever tested? Anything you would be worried about? Any doubts you’ve been having about any aspects of belief? Anything like that?
    Father Dougal McGuire: Well, you know the way God made us all, right? And he’s looking down at us from heaven and everything?
    Bishop Facks: Uh-huh.
    Father Dougal McGuire: And then his son came down and saved everyone and all that?
    Bishop Facks: Yes.
    Father Dougal McGuire: And when we die we’re all going to go to heaven?
    Bishop Facks: Yes. What about it?
    Father Dougal McGuire: Well, that’s the bit I have trouble with!

  21. Robster says:

    “Father Dougal McGuire: Well, that’s the bit I have trouble with!”, that’s the bit that, at least as it seems to me, they can’t really cope with or even believe. I’ve been to lots of xian funerals, none are joyous occasions, expressing their said belief that the deceased are off to a sunny place, it’s all grief and sadness, the exact opposite of what it should be if they were to really believe the official dogma. It’s a bit hypocritical really and quite overt.

  22. barriejohn says:

    Robster: He means that he has trouble with ALL of it!

    Christians are specifically commanded NOT to mourn their members:

    “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others who have no hope.” (I Thess. 4:13)

    They wilfully twist this around to say that they should “sorrow not IN THE SAME MANNER as others who have no hope”, but that’s not what is being said here. They are to “sorrow not”. They all feel deep guilt that they can’t rejoice that their loved ones have gone to be “with Christ, which is far better”, and you have to wonder whether many even believe that.

  23. Robster says:

    I love how in the wishful thinking Christian world view, that word “death” actually means “more life”. How messed up is that, eh? I’m sure only the seriously besotted would really believe what is clearly nonsense.